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from Chapter 19,
The Good Samaritan

‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he aw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite… But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn and took care of him.’ –Luke 10.30-34

I have often found the parable of the Good Samaritan useful in illustrating our condition. There are many parallels in the suffering of the man going down to Jericho and that of the Palestinian people. Three groups of people encounter the man on his journey: they represent three types we find in the world.

The first say, ‘What is yours is mine.’ They try to deprive you of your right to be yourself, of your right to your land, of your right to education in the field of your choice, your right to equal job opportunities. After 2,000 years some people came back and claimed, ‘What is yours is mine.’ The people living in the land had nothing to do with what happened 2,000 years ago. We were not responsible for what happened to the Jews at the hands of the Romans. We lived here under the Romans, the Greeks, the Ottomans. And then the people came and told us: this land is not yours, these houses are not yours, the water is not yours, the air is not yours…
We were robbed, and it is very painful to lose one’s possessions; one’s home and one’s country.
We were wounded, and our injuries are not only physical but also spiritual, through the denial of our very existence.

Then came those who passed by. In my mind these represent some of the Arab regimes and some Western governments who apply double standards in their dealings with other states; but I also see them in many of those who come to us calling themselves pilgrims. They say, ‘What is mine is mine – and I am not going to risk losing it to help you!’ I marvel at their selfishness. The Saudi Arabians, the rulers of the Gulf States – they have so much. As the Canaanite woman said to Jesus, ‘Even the dogs enjoy the crumbs which fall from the tables of their masters.’

We have been treated for many years like the dogs, forced as refugees to queue for rations, for handouts, for the crumbs which fall from the table. What did the injured man feel, as he lay by the side of the road? Was the indifference of those who passed by not at least as hurtful as the experience of being robbed itself? I have ofter wondered what the injured man’s thoughts were as he lay by the side of the road. Did he cry for help until he could cry no more? When he heard the third person coming, did he determine in his desperation to make sure that this person did not overlook him? Maybe he, too, took up a stone near his hand and threw it. Luckily the Samaritan did not label him a terrorist for his action…

This is the third type, who says, ‘What is mine is yours.’ He is not proud. In order to lift up the wounded man, the Samaritan is forced to bow down to him, to pick him up from where he lies in the dust. He does what is necessary and goes on his way. Who made known what had happened? I do not believe that it was the Samaritan. I believe it was the man who was saved, who was healed. He told of his suffering, but also of the restoration of hope. The Samaritan acted out of a conviction that the man was worth the life God had given him. He simply helped to heal him; to give him the strength to stand again by himself.

When the Palestinian people receive the help they need to stand by themselves again, they will not forget. They will share the experience with others.

There is no mention of revenge in the story, only pain and fear – and courage. The two who passed by were afraid, afraid of suffering the same fate as the man lying in the orad. They looked, and ran away. How many in the world look and run away?

We have yet to discover who will be our Good Samaritan. We continue to pray for him – and like the wounded man we may have to wait for a stranger, someone not of our own, to fill the role.